Hello, my fellow Gardener!
Whatever you are growing and tending to in your life, I know you are working hard and it's just as important that YOU stay well-resourced and well-nourished in the process.
This article will guide you through a list of questions that will aide you in exploring what nourishes YOU (and not what nourishes others and, therefore, SHOULD also be nourishing to you). As you explore the three questions I pose for you in this post, you are invited to come up with as many answers as you want. Your answers will then become YOUR VERY OWN INDIVIDUALIZED LIST OF USEFUL SELF-CARE STRATEGIES.
But first-and I cannot stress this enough-no effective self-care is possible without YOU SAYING YES TO YOU!
What does it mean or look like?
Well, it can look like many things, but ultimately, it boils down to the core, embodied belief that YOU ARE WORTHY of being loved, nurtured and taken care of.
None of the self-care suggestions will ever work-or not for a very long time at least- unless you can truly embody that you are worthy of love and care and ARE TOTALLY ALLOWED TO PUT YOURSELF FIRST.
If you are a natural nurturer or a caretaker or if your worth/identity is tied up in how much you do for others, it is likely very difficult for you to shift our of the habitual caretaker role to attend to yourself. That said, if some of what I will be inviting you to explore here is challenging or anxiety-provoking, consider staying with it.
I bet that if taking care of yourself is difficult, UNNATURAL and/or anxiety-provoking, therein lies one of your biggest, more powerful and life-changing LIFE TASKS.
Or, as author Joseph Campbell said, "Where you stumble, there lies your treasure."
To explore YOUR OWN PERSONAL LIST OF HELPFUL SELF-CARE TECHNIQUES, consider answering the following questions:
1. What brings you pleasure?
Engaging in pleasurable activities is both soothing and energizing. Pleasure relaxes the nervous system and allows us to take in life from the place of calm alertness as opposed to vigilance or tension.
One of the ways to really discern what brings pleasure and joy to you PERSONALLY is to answer the following question: What do you do that makes you lose track of time?
Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen, the author of "Goddesses in Everywoman" wrote, "The Greeks had two words for time. Chronos is the time we usually keep an eye on. Kairos was our participation of time. Time that moves us so that we lose our sense of time; timeless time; moments at which the clocks seems to stop; feeding, renewing, more motherly time. It's the time with which we feel one instead of outside of it, the self, the tao, the love that connects us to others."
Dr. Shinoda Bolen asserts that we are truly one with the source of OUR pleasure when we engage in something that makes us lose track of time (or go into a sort of trance where the external tracking system falls away and we are one with whatever it is we are doing).
2. What restores and energizes you?
There are many activities that are very deceiving in their capacity to truly restore. When we are under stress and are either overstimulated or full or overwhelmed, we tend to go to either of the two activities to take the edge of. We distract or discharge. We do that when our systems are so unpleasantly full, we need a quick way to lessen the discomfort, but while these two activities are a quick way to take the edge off, neither is truly restorative or energizing.
In many ways, to keep our energy supplies steady, we must re-new energy supplies in our bodies proactively or-at the very least-respond to the body's early signs of tiredness and depletion versus REACTING when things are dire.
3. What keeps you present and grounded?
When we are stressed out, our energy travels UP our body. There, it becomes frantic static of frenzied energy, which is so counterproductive to the nourishing and sustainable affect we are after.
Bringing the energy from our upper body (jaw, neck, shoulders, chest, upper and middle back) where it is held as tension and down to our pelvic area where it is held as a warm pool of energy is a powerful restorative practice.
For me, movement practices and, in particularly the Non-Linear Movement Method™ practice, have been invaluable in helping guide the energy down.